If you are like a lot of people we know, you will have come up against the proverbial question, “what is your passion?” more than once in life. Or you have found yourself needing a career/life change and want to go in a different direction. When faced with this conundrum, we are told, the best place to start is to figure out what our passion is. For some, the answer is immediate and their enthusiasm and excitement is readily seen, but for many others, the answer to the passion question is frustratingly elusive.
Can you think of something that you have a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for? If so, that is great. You have identified something you are passionate about – wonderful! If nothing comes immediately to mind, that is okay. It just means you may need to view finding your passion in another way. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find our passion. We may start to feel something is wrong with us if we can’t identify something that we have a passion for. With so much pressure put on us by ourselves and possibly by others too, it is time we really got rid of the “find your passion” notion and turn things around to think about finding/exploring your curiosity instead.
Sometimes we put up roadblocks to exploring our curiosity as people may think; it is a waste of time; they do not have time due to work, family and other commitments; they simply are not sure how to become more curious about things; or they are worried about “killing the cat”.
First of all, we need to stop worrying about killing cats with all of this curiosity exploration. We were curious, so we looked this up and found that curiosity did not kill the cat after all. Turns out, the original mention about what kills cats, was made in a 1598 play entitled, “Every Man in his Humour” written by English playwright, Ben Jonson. It is stated in the play that care actually killed the cat, not curiosity. In other words, sorrow or worry killed the wee beast.
Setting aside time in the day to simply be curious is a very freeing and fulfilling activity and demands that we be present for those few minutes in the day. The best part about finding your curiosity is that you can do it anywhere, even in the middle of a hectic workday and it can be quite rejuvenating. For example, it is 3:00pm and it is the first time in your day where you can take a break. Look around your office, what do you see? Pick an item, like the artwork on the wall. What does it depict? Are you curious about what it represents or about an activity it is portraying? Have you ever tried the activity or would you want to? If you keep exploring, you may find you have a natural curiosity about a subject you have not thought of before and this curiosity may lead you to discover a passion you have yet to tap into. All of which can come about because you gave yourself permission to stop what you were, to be present and to be open and inviting to new ways of thinking about things.
Okay, so no more excuses for shying away from allowing your inner explorer loose.
Let’s start with asking questions. How many questions have you asked today? It is estimated that from the ages of 2 to 5 years children ask about 40,000 questions. We are all born with a sense of natural curiosity and children use the question-asking approach as one way to scratch their curiosity itch and to explore their world. By the time we get to adulthood, we end up asking fewer and fewer questions – we once heard an Illusionist state during his performance, that the number was 12 questions per day! Not sure if this is scientifically proven, but it does make one curious doesn’t it?
Why is it Good to Ask Questions?
- When you ask questions and you are curious about things you release dopamine, a powerful chemical in your brain that helps you to feel enjoyment and pleasure. It also causes you to seek, desire, search and increase goal directed behaviour
- You will never be bored again and you will create a sense of adventure/surprise during your day. For example, the next time you are stuck in a line-up or in traffic, challenge yourself to be curious about your surroundings, rather than be bored or frustrated. If you are stuck in a line-up, imagine you are in the middle of a novel and the people around you are characters in the book. Who are they, what is their back-story, what plot twists do they bring? Or, start a conversation with someone in line by making a positive comment about something they are wearing and asking where they got it or what it means to them. All of this may sound frivolous, but it is a great exercise to get a jump start on revving up your curiosity engine and to get you thinking about other interests, being open to new information and possible avenues to explore on your way to finding your passion
- We tend to put our own egocentric spin on things because it is familiar, like an old pair of sweatpants that we just can’t seem to stop wearing because they are so comfy and cozy. Asking questions helps you to break free of the usual way you view your world and allows for new possibilities and concepts to appear to you
- We may need to give ourselves permission to ask questions. We used to be those children asking all of those questions, but our educational experiences and societal expectations may have taught us that asking questions is a sign of weakness or a sign of a lack of intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth as we expand and maintain our intelligence by asking questions
- Asking questions is a form of active learning, during which you are listening to the answers, processing the information, and generating more questions and new ways of thinking about things. This is a far better way to stimulate and satisfy your curiosity (stimulating your passions) than passively receiving information from sources where you can’t ask questions. Yes, we realize this blog is an example of a passive transmission of information. This is why we are always open to exploring questions, either by contacting us or through our workshops (shameless self-promotion – but we truly would love to have an opportunity to explore questioning with you).
Our sense of curiosity is always readily available and we need to take action in order to find our passions. We can’t just sit and think about what we may be passionate about. We have to get actively involved in our communities to explore, participate, interact and make connections to people and activities we are curious about. Finding your curiosity is a great excuse to meet others along the passion trail, so why not get exploring to see what passions you share.